Southern (5-3 overall and 4-1 in the Southwestern Athletic Conference) returns home for the first time in four weeks when it plays Alabama State at 6 p.m. Saturday in A.W. Mumford Stadium. The Hornets are 4-4 and 3-3 after a 37-36 defeat against Alabama A&M last Saturday. ASU led 20-7 at halftime but got outscored 16-3 in the fourth quarter and missed what would have been a go-ahead 30-yard field goal with 12 seconds left. Last season, the Jaguars defeated the Hornets 31-28 in Montgomery, Alabama, when Greg Pittman made a tie-breaking 43-yard field goal with 18 seconds left.
Willie Quinn returned a punt 81 yards for a touchdown, Jaleel Richardson returned a kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown and Lenard Tillery ran 77 yards for a touchdown as Southern used a series of big plays to jump on top of Jackson State early and claim a 42-28 victory in Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium. QBs Deonte Shorts and Austin Howard both ran for touchdowns and Howard threw an 8-yard touchdown to Montrell Jones as the Jaguars won their third consecutive game. The Southern defense contained the Tigers’ highly ranked passing game, though JSU scored two late touchdowns to make the final margin more respectable.
Quinn’s big-play ability was on display both offensively and on special teams. His punt return provided the Jaguars’ second touchdown as Southern built an early 27-0 lead. As JSU was trying to climb back into the game early in the fourth quarter, Quinn and Howard teamed on an 87-yard pass from the Jaguars’ 2 to set up a field goal that helped Southern rebuild its lead to 42-14.
“In the first half we played great. In the second half, like we usually do, we came out a little slow and let them get a little bit of momentum so we’re going to work on that.”
— Southern RB Lenard Tillery
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RB Tyre Bracken returned from a three-game absence because of a shoulder injury and showed glimpses of the explosiveness he had before the injury. Bracken finished with 67 yards on 13 carries, and Southern had its top four running backs together for the first time since mid-September.
One blemish on a mostly stellar performance by Southern was its uncharacteristic problem with penalties. The Jaguars were called for season-worsts in penalties (14) and penalty yards (108). Southern entered the game having committed the fewest penalties in the SWAC (53) and averaging the fewest penalty yards (61.7).